In today’s fast paced world, the importance of time simply cannot be overestimated. In our blog we will discuss 8 effective time management tricks for animators & vfx artists.
It is a matter of performing the greatest amount of quality work possible in a given number of work hours, or conversely speaking, performing a given amount of quality work in the shortest time possible.
This is especially true in the computer oriented world of animation and visual effects.
In an industry that has very specific production processes (which are called pipelines), it is essential for an artist to perform his task in the allotted time so that none of the other steps fall behind schedule.
That being said, what exactly should an aspiring student in this line be doing to increase work efficiency? We at Maac Kolkata might be able to give a few helpful pointers on that.
1. Go in Order: As we’ve mentioned before, everything moves through the production pipeline, and a single faulty step can make the rest of the process unnecessarily hard.
In terms of 3d animation, it’s painfully hard to work with a faulty rig; by extension, rigging and skinning a model with poor topology is difficult, if not impossible in certain cases.
Modelling is also something that is essential to VFX. With that in mind, here are some basic tips on fast and efficient modelling.
- ii) Get reference images. Google is your friend. If you’re modeling a real life object or a realistic character, public domain images are a must so that the model is accurate.
Having a front, side and back view image to work with makes things easier, and is something even experienced artists use.
iii) Model the basic shape first. Get the overall volume and curves right. Whether you’re using box or edge modeling, this principle doesn’t change.
Start with less geometry, only using as much as is needed to set up the basic shape. Later animators and vfx artists can add more detail later.
Just imagine adding a bunch of extra edges and then realizing the shape is all wrong. It might take an hour just to drag all the vertexes into the right position.
iii) Learn topology and use it effectively.
For inorganic hard surfaced modeling, that means keeping your geometry as simple as possible while getting the right shape.
For organic modeling, that means having enough loops in all the right places and going in all the right directions to deform the model during animation.
Quads are the optimum solution in most cases, and you will want to make sure that your models are composed of quads as far as possible.
They are ideal for most cases of deformation, and also give ideal shapes when smoothed.
However, don’t be afraid of triangles, or even the dreaded Ngons. Both have their uses. Hint: Triangles are often used in areas on the model that don’t deform, such as fingertips.
Animators and vfx artists should research more about where these non-quads are used, and learn to integrate them into your modeling to speed up your workflow!
iv) Simple is generally better. No matter how perfectly you model the muscles on your superhero character, they’re no use if the model cannot be animated.
As a rule, around four or five edge loops running all the way around are ideal for bendable body parts, with at least three being the minimum.
For more realistic models, one might need other specific kinds of loops.
While adding insets or loops for definition make sure you don’t break or divert the loops needed for animation.
Simple is best, and if you can use the absolute barest topology to build a good looking character, then you’re doing fine.
No need to add unnecessary loops.
v) Perfect a modeling workflow. Some artists prefer to place all the major loops first before filling in the empty spaces by extruding or bridging edges.
Tip: Use the Edit Poly modifier if you’re working in 3DS Max. It can be layered on top of other Edit Poly modifiers to continually work on the model, and also provides a convenient way to correct mistakes simply by deleting the modifier.
After all, it’s quicker than pressing the undo shortcut a million times.
2. Build a good rig: It’s hard for animators to work with a rig that’s unnecessarily complicated. Keep the rig simple; keep the underlying mechanisms out of the way and the controls easy to use.
A well skinned model looks great and is the difference between a stylish production and an average one.
3. Block out the key poses first: The same principles as modeling apply in animation for animators. Big picture first, details later.
The body moves as a whole, and working for too long on a single part might cause you to lose the flow of the overall movement, creating an unnatural and uneven animation. Instead, an animators should do all the main movements at first, getting the rough poses right, before tweaking the fine adjustments.
4. Copy key frames and re-use good animations and models: It makes absolutely no sense for a good model or a good run or walk cycle to go to waste.
Keep them and re-use them on future projects to save valuable time. Slight adjustments according to character by animators and vfx artists can be made in both models and walk or run cycles to keep the whole production true to the story.
Similarly, copy and paste animation keys whenever possible.
5. Everything that should be handled in production should be handled in production: VFX artists know well that not everything can be fixed in post production, nor should the attempt be made to do so.
When going from 3D software to compositing software, it is ideal to handle the entirety of the CG work, and whatever else is possible, in the 3D software itself.
As the name itself makes clear, compositing software is for exactly that: compositing.
By now, you would have gotten some idea of how to improve your workflow. But does time management for a student end there?
Here are some of the things you absolutely should be doing to maximize your efficiency.
6.Take breaks. Yes, we know it sounds insane, but they’re necessary. An overworked artist cannot fully express their ability.
Make sure to take some breaks, especially since most of your day is spend sitting in front of a computer screen. Give the eyes some time away from the monitor.
7.Stay up-to-date with the latest industry news. Hardware, software, techniques, stays informed on them. There are a number of great YouTube channels one can follow for this purpose.
Spend some time doing other stuff. Recreation is important.
8.And finally, stay inspired. Watch a movie, read a comic, play a game. Check out some of your favorite artists. Remind yourself why you started doing this in the first place.
And if you’re really serious, come check us out at Maac Kolkata, where we have great, and industry oriented courses for aspiring 3D modelers, animators and VFX artists.